Comptroller and controllers are important positions when it comes to the financial operations of practically any business. While these positions are both considered to be senior roles with relatively similar duties, comptrollers and controllers work in completely different industries. In this article, you’ll learn more about the differences between comptrollers and controllers.
What Is a Comptroller?
Comptrollers are high-level executives who focus on managing financial reporting and accounting tasks for nonprofit or governmental organizations. This particular position is equivalent to the chief financial officer position. In most cases, comptrollers have a more senior position in a company than controllers. Comptrollers are directly responsible for ensuring the accuracy of payroll, the general ledger, loan transactions, and accounts receivable.
What Is a Controller?
Controllers are tasked with managing the financial department in a company, which means that these individuals will maintain the company’s financials. In most cases, a controller will manage such accounting operations as revenue recognition, accounts payable and accounts receivable, inventory accounting, tax filing, billing, risk assessment, and cost accounting.
Controllers prepare, fully verify, and publish all financial reports while also ensuring that the company complies with local, state, and federal regulations. The main concern that the controller has is protecting the company’s bottom line. Controllers will also develop financial policies, budgets, procedures, and forecasts, which means that a controller is important for helping a company map out their future financial decisions in a strategic manner.
Primary Differences Between Comptrollers and Controllers
There are several key differences between comptrollers and controllers, the primary of which is that comptrollers are responsible for providing accounting services for nonprofit and governmental organizations. In comparison, controllers perform many of the same tasks while working at for-profit companies. There are a few additional differences that you should be aware of.
As touched upon previously, controllers work at for-profit businesses with the goal of improving cash flows and making sure that the business is profitable once the fiscal year comes to an end. On the other hand, comptrollers work for nonprofit or governmental organizations with a focus on the company’s mission as opposed to profits. Comptrollers strive to properly distribute mission-related funds to make sure that they are being used for the intended purpose.
Comptrollers have a sizable role in any organization and are considered to be a senior-level employee. In comparison, controllers work in the accounting department, which means that they have somewhat less impact in regards to the financial decisions that company executives make in regards to long-term and short-term financials. However, controllers will still determine what the company’s costs and returns are for product marketing and manufacturing processes.
Controller and comptroller duties are largely the same. Keep in mind, however, that comptroller responsibilities are to the taxpayers. Comptrollers are tasked with making sure that the organization’s expenditures and budgets are used properly during the course of an action or project. Controllers work towards profitability above all else. The types of duties that both comptrollers and controllers perform include:
- Making sure that company funds are properly accounted for and spent
- Reporting all accounting information for external and internal stakeholders
- Assessing employee performance in the financial department
- Managing every company transaction, which includes accounts payable, cash transactions, salary payments, and collections
- Adhering to governmental regulations
- Following procedures that have been set by a chief executive officer
- Maintaining a ledger that records all of the details available in financial statements
While comptrollers and controllers work in different industries and have a different level of seniority within the organization, these two roles are very similar. Anyone who enters a career with the goal of being a controller can make the switch to a comptroller position without much issue.